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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.
Short Answer Questions
1. What does Del tell James about Volterra's intention regarding his film in Chapter 10?
2. What are Rowser's plans as he talks to James at the end of Chapter 11?
3. What celestial event is approaching as Owen travels to Rajsamand Lake in Chapter 12?
4. In Chapter 8, what is Volterra unsure of regarding his possible documentary?
5. In Chapter 10, where does James say he is traveling instead of Kuwait?
Short Essay Questions
1. What unsettling information does Ann Maitland tell James in Chapter 10?
2. What prank do the Kellers and James try to play on Hardeman in Chapter 11?
3. How does James learn the truth behind the CIA in Chapter 13?
4. What traumatic experience happens to Orville Benton in Chapter 14?
5. Where is Volterra in his planning for the cult film at the end of Chapter 8?
6. Describe the political argument that James and Eliades have in Chapter 10.
7. How has Rowser become more paranoid in Chapter 11?
8. What transpires during James' evening with Del Nearing in Chapter 10?
9. What does James Axton learn in Bombay early in Chapter 11?
10. How does James seduce Janet Ruffing at the end of Chapter 9?
Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:
Essay Topic 1
A central theme of Don DeLillo's The Names is the mystical and broad meaning of language. In this novel, language and words not only contain meaning but also a sort of divine truth. Write an essay in three parts about the way DeLillo deals with truth in the novel:
Part 1) Owen Brademas is the major character with the most passionate connection to language in the novel. Discuss what influences in his life, beginning with his childhood, have contributed to this connection. What does he want to do with his life, and how do words become part of this? What is the purpose of ancient words, in his viewpoint?
Part 2) Midway through the novel, the mysterious Vosdanik explains the significance of words to the mysterious cult. Describe the role of language to the lonely men of the desert. Why are they obsessed with them? Historically, what has been the significance of words to spiritual acolytes?
Part 3) What is the methodology of the language cult? Why do they commit their murders? What divine extreme are they reaching for? Citing the words of Vosdanik, Andahl, and Singh, discuss the meaning of the cult in the world of the novel. Are they the touchstone of love of language in The Names?
Essay Topic 2
Write an essay about the Language Cult and how it becomes a symbol in the novel. To what extent does the language cult exist outside of time and place? In what ways is it stateless and oddly innocent? In discussing the otherworldliness of the cult, determine what it represents to the people who search it out. What do these lost Americans long to find at the end of the search for the cult? To what extent does the cult represent a pre-American world?
Essay Topic 3
In The Names, Don DeLillo has created a central mystery - the mystery of the cult - in which clues and revelations are annoyingly amorphous and cannot necessarily be trusted. Write an essay about the subjectivity of truth in the novel, focusing on three pieces of information that James Axton gleans in his investigation. Where does this information come from? What is James's attitude towards it? Does he think that it is ultimately trustworthy?
This section contains 1,239 words
(approx. 5 pages at 300 words per page)